2015 was full of surprises in regards to anime. A lot of amazing titles that turned to shit, a lot of titles I expected nothing out of being amazing, a sudden resurgence of commercial break bumpers and ED bleed-ins, and a lot of continuations of shows that ended awhile ago – not to mention a load of shows that felt reminiscent of the mid 00s in many ways. I’ve included a bunch of categories this time because I felt like it and it ended up kind of random and all over the place so have fun. Surprisingly this is only just over (thanks to this sentence) 2300 words, it was exactly 2300 words before this sentence – making it one of the shortest posts I’ve made in awhile!
Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans – Raise Your Flag
Runners-up: One Punch Man, Gangsta, Sengoku Musou
Best Romance/Best Comedy
Jitsu wa Watashi wa
Jitsu is really something special, but I’ll get to that in a bit more detail later (hint hint) – for now it’s enough to say that it was definitely the best romance series, best comedy series, best rom-com series, and the most fun and enjoyable show of the year. It features a wonderful and completely lovable cast of sillies, a lot of vibrancy both in the actual colors and figuratively in the events and cast, gives out top-tier laughs, sincere touching moments and characters with genuine feelings, and well I’ll just stop there. The point is this was easily the best romance of the year, and even maybe one of my favorite rom-coms in general, even without making a canon couple by the end. The title is really dumb though, it’s just “Actually, I am…” even in Japanese.
Runner-up: Kamisama Kiss 2
Best Canon Couple
Natsu and Ei-chan (Baby Steps 2)
This actually happening was quite a surprise, with manga and shows like this the romance tends to remain at a stand-still aside jokes and a little bit of shuffling forward on rare occasion – but here? It did take them till season 2, but there wasn’t much time wasted getting these two officially going out as boyfriend and girlfriend once Natsu realized Ei was too much of a pussy to do anything and took the steps he should have for him. The series is over for now (hopefully more seasons some day) but in terms of the actual story this coupling really does happen incredibly early, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The love between these two has been built up so adorably from the very start and both of them are such great characters that seeing them finally get together wasn’t just the forming of the “best couple of the year”, but one of my favorite overall events of the year to come out of the medium given they’re also one of my favorite couples in anime overall. Better yet, even after becoming a couple the show doesn’t lose it’s focus and both of them are right back to the tournament they’re in the middle of and playing better than ever due to their feelings being on the forefront of their minds and an excitement for finally getting to actually go out once the tournament ends leading them to want to earn it through winning.
Runners-up: Nanami and Tomoe (Kamisama Kiss 2), Fremy and Adlet (Rokka no Yuusha), Inami and Takanashi (Working!!!)
Best Unexpected Surprise
The actual title is “Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon?” which might help you understand a bit more easily why I was so surprised when this was not an ecchi harem about a pervert in a fantasy world acting like a hero to get his dick wet. Let alone why I never expected this to actually be an incredible show about a boy in one of the coolest fantasy settings possible (they aren’t stuck in a game, but the actual world they live in is VERY reminiscent of JRPGs, they even live a life where experience points and personal stats just exist and where people dungeon dive for a living) who is really weak and spends his days just “making it by”…before he falls in love with one of the strongest adventurers in the entire city when she saves him from death. This isn’t about him trying to fuck her, this isn’t about him slipping and grabbing her boobs, it’s about him trying in earnest to become someone worthy of her – risking his life to become stronger and stronger so he can be someone he feels deserves to be by her side, along with the many issues of adventuring and making some new friends along the way to handle even harder fights. It’s a very cool “coming-of-age” story that gives you a lot of fun, has a great unique romance, and has some of the coolest fight scenes of the year even above “One Punch Man”.
Runner-up: Rokka no Yuusha
Best Old New-To-Me Series
Shin Sekai Yori
I really can’t do this show even a modicum of justice outside of a full giant review…and I can’t do one of those because there is just such a vast amount to spoil from start to finish. This is a must-see for anyone though and really one of the best anime I’ve EVER seen, not just this year but at all. NEVER look at the manga though, I’ve never seen something take what is the most deserving of a 10/10 and turn it into something that deserves less than a fucking zero.
Runners-up: Code Geass R1/R2, Kamisama Kiss S.1
Best Short-Length Series
Did you ever watch Ai Mai Mi? Well you should have if not, and if you have then this is more of the same yet possibly even more fucking wacky than ever. This mangaka and the animation staff have managed to consistently pump out the perfect example of “random humor actually done right” which is truly one of the most rare types of comedy without being total shit at least. Somera-chan is fucking weird, fucking hilarious, and a fucking great time – the episodes are only a few minutes long too, making the humor never get old. Not that it would given how out-there and different every episode is.
Runner-up: Comical Psychosomatic Medicine
The 35th Test Platoon (AntiMagic Academy 35th Test Platoon)
First off, I should probably have put this as a runner-up for biggest surprise as well. This is, oddly enough, also not an ecchi harem. Unlike Danmachi though this definitely does have something akin to a harem and does have SOME light ecchi – it’s rare but when it shows up it’s very well done, it’s not something anyone would label this genre-wise as an ecchi for though. This is a series focused on the characters, a lot of heavy and dark shit you’d never expect (murdering and slaughtering of children for magic experiments, for example), some comedy, but most of all the team itself dealing with varying dangerous combat scenarios. Every character in the unit becomes very important during any mission and the way they work together without even the MC being a one-man-army is really great and not something easy to find in much of any storytelling medium. You almost always end up with one or two characters in every film, book, anime, or game that happens to be overly-capable – but here that never really happens. Everyone works in tandem and gets their chance to shine and fills a role in their operation that nobody else could do yet needs to be done while also making sure it doesn’t feel unnecessarily forced in.
Runner-up: Orga and Mikazuki (Gundam Orphans)
Most Unique Series
Dance with Devils
It’s a musical. IT’S A FUCKING MUSICAL. AN ANIME MUSICAL. NOT AN ANIME MUSICAL SPECIAL EPISODE, NOT AN ANIME WITH A MUSICAL PART, NOT A RETARDED LOVE-LIVE OR IDOLMASTER STYLE “LETS JUST THROW IN SHITTY MUSIC AND A VIDEO”. A FULL ON SERIES THAT IS AN ACTUAL LEGITIMATE REAL MARY FUCKING POPPINS MUSICAL. THERE ARE EVEN A COUPLE SONG BATTLES AND EVEN LITERAL SINGING DOGS.
Runner-up: Rokka no Yuusha
Seraph of the End
I never expected it to be as good as it is, but Seraph of the End turned out really great and always had me seriously enjoying it. It avoids a lot of typical cliches for this style of shounen and at the same time does a lot of really cool shit such as presenting Guren in a similar light to that of the “Commandant” in Beasts of No Nation – a man who brainwashes and manipulates children into believing they are all family now and that he will protect them and help them get revenge through smart speeches and special treatment per every individual child. Guren is literally a warlord in charge of a bunch of child soldiers who blindly follow him in a war against Vampires that the humans started just as an excuse to continue trying to garner more and more power. The first episode blindsides you before throwing you into a situation where you can’t tell which side is worse and as you watch Yu and the others get stronger you also see the turmoil on both sides of the war and the civil war about to break out within the human government. A world with very few adults, a handful of young-adults, and mostly children – fighting for survival against vampires, wild monsters sent by the heavens, angels, and wielding demons…and some secret experiments to do it. Seraph isn’t afraid to be brutal with it’s cast either and features some really great Sawano music as well as a lot of very unexpected twists or simply events you NEVER see coming. Really if we were talking about specific happenings in the “surprise” category this probably would have won alongside Rokka – both of them continually had things you never imagined would happen or never expected to happen doing just that.
Runner-up: Ushio and Tora
Best Overall OST
As much as I love the Seraph OST, Danmachi just had something about it that I loved a bit more. The whole library of music from it is great and there are a handful of exceedingly powerful tracks that surpass what anything else airing this year had in quality and in quantity. It’s another thing that helped make it such a fantastic show for me and made a lot of it so memorable.
Runners-up: Kekkai Sensen, Seraph of the End
Tachibana Sylphynford from Himouto! Umaru-chan
Runner-up: Biscuit (Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans)
Mo Ritika Tzetzes Ura A.K.A. Moura from Comet Lucifer
Runners-up: Rokumon-chan (Rinne), Oden-dog (Somera-chan), Tora (Ushio and Tora)
ONII-CHAN BUY GEEEEEMMMUUU!!! GEEEEMMMUU, ONIICHANNN!!!!
Runner-up: Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note
Best New Male Character
Saitama from One Punch Man
Saitama is a true hero. Not only is he the absolute strongest thing in the entire universe and any others, he’s willing to take no credit for it and almost always does exactly that. He doesn’t care if people hate him if it helps them feel better and he’ll go out of his way to play up how much everyone else helped (even if they did nothing) to make sure the other heroes get the fame and recognition instead. He’ll even purposefully let an opponent survive for awhile, avoiding anything but dodging their attacks, to make them feel as if they were a legitimate challenge for him in order to make them feel better about themselves. He’s also a goofy looking lovable loser.
Runner-ups: Bell (Danmachi), Orga (Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans)
Best New Female Character
Aizawa Nagisa from Jitsu wa Watashi wa
Aizawa is a girl that went from “well she’s kind of cute” to being in my top 10 favorite characters list, a similar situation to how things worked out with Mikoto Misaka for me (though her I hated at first, as I had only seen her in Index and she’s terrible there). She’s not just incredibly cute, she’s not only hiding a fun secret, but she is a truly wonderful person(?) through and through. The whole situation surrounding her is great too – in fact the main character asked her out before the show starts, so in a way she “won” already…but she turned him down because she misunderstood and also barely knew him. Within the show she ends up falling for him yet never forgets what she put him through by turning him down so harshly and the humiliation of doing it publicly, and so when she realizes he loves someone else she spends her time doing her best to help them end up together even though it hurts her.
She’s incredibly cute, incredibly fun and silly, has a super fantastic voice and a bunch of great facial expressions, has a literal giant screw in her head, thinks of manga as history books of mankind, and is just incredibly charismatic and impossible not to love. She also never lets misunderstandings get in the way of things, she does run into a few but she gets past them quickly – realizing it was exactly that, a misunderstanding, and calms herself down and fixes it. She’s a special character who perfectly pulls off everything she’s trying to be, and all the things she’s trying to be happen to be some of the best character traits and personality bits possible. Aizawa is the type of girl that there’s nobody out there who wouldn’t love the opportunity to just be around and spend time with before inevitably falling for her, she’s as cute as possible and as sweet and caring as can be while also one of the most fun characters in her show to watch the faces of because they are even more silly than the already insanely silly reaction faces people have in it.
Her seiyuu also happens to voice Jamon the cutest critter and Hestia in Danmachi. Coincidence???? (Yes.)
Runners-up: Fremy (Rokka no Yuusha), Tachibana A.K.A. Danzai (Aoharu x Machinegun)
Best Logo Design
Aoharu x Machinegun
Best Title Card
Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans
Re-Kan! – Every<3ing
Runners-up: Kekkai Sensen, Jitsu wa Watashi wa, JJBA Stardust Crusaders S.2